Eternal Rewards

What are eternal rewards?


Colossians 3:23-24
And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Does the Lord award us in Heaven for our labor for Him on Earth?

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
What is it that 'we' (believers) are judged for since our sin was dealt with completely on the cross?

Luke 19:17
“He said to him, ‘Well done, you good servant! Because you were found faithful with very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
What was the good and faithful servant's reward?

1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.
What reward is Paul expecting?

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
What does Paul say about our labor for the Lord?

Eternal rewards are...
  • What Christians receive for faithfully laboring for and serving the Lord. (Col. 3:23-24)
  • What Christians are judged for rather than for sin because our sin was completely paid for by Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 5:10)
  • Distinct positions awarded to us for eternity (Luke 19:17)
    • Illustration: In comparison think of an organization and the lowest position vs. the highest position (e.g. in the Army a Private vs. a Five-Star General)
  • Distinct honors referred to as crowns in the Bible that are awarded to us for eternity (1 Cor. 9:24-25)
    • Illustration: In comparison think of the most prestigious awards according to mankind (e.g. the Nobel Prize, the Medal of Honor, an Olympic Gold Medal, a Superbowl Ring)
  • Worth laboring for because the Lord keeps track of every little thing that you do for His glory alone and will reward you far beyond any earthly reward that you have or ever will receive. (1 Cor. 15:58)
How do I earn the five crowns mentioned in the Bible?
The crowns are earned by pure motives that seek to serve and glorify God alone. If we do anything for our own glory, our reward will not be from God but from man. The criteria for earning the crowns are not specifically laid out in scripture, but we are given the general idea of how to labor for them. 

The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corin. 9:25)
Awarded to Christians who have lived a spiritually disciplined life and served the Lord faithfully. This person has successfully lived a life of solid, steady growth in faithfulness. Each year they looked more like Christ and grew in their love for God and people. Their life was marked not by spiritual perfection but progress. They may have not started well and even had rough periods but they did finish well. A godly man or woman that you can think of is someone that will probably be awarded the incorruptible crown. 

Crown of Life (Jam. 1:12)
Awarded to Christians who have suffered greatly to stay faithful to the Lord despite severe persecution and especially death. Stephen in Acts 7 is a prime example of someone that will probably be awarded the crown of life.

Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8)
Awarded to Christians who have lived their lives expecting the return of Jesus any day. This person is living in a way that they would not be ashamed to meet Jesus face to face this very day. They have  consistently overcome sin in their life, they are glorifying God with their life, and they are doing exactly what they should be doing according to God's will for their life. This person has an eternal perspective and lives each day like it is their last—all for God's glory. Paul is a prime example of someone that will be awarded the crown of righteousness.

Crown of Boasting (1 Thes. 2:19)
Awarded to Christians who have labored diligently in evangelism and discipleship. This person has led many people to Christ and discipled many believers. Billy Graham is a prime example of someone that will probably be awarded the crown of boasting. 

Crown of Glory (1 Pet. 5:4)
Awarded to Christians who have lived their lives shepherding and teaching other Christians. A faithful pastor, elder, missionary, or disciple maker is an example of someone that will probably be awarded the crown of glory. 



Always check your motives and remember that Jesus is the goal.
Descriptions of eternal rewards are vague in scripture. This is probably because God wants us to take them by faith which prevents selfishness. We just need to remember two things: imitate Jesus and trust that God has something far more amazing than we can imagine prepared for us.  

"Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say ’twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last."
— C.T. Studd